Artisans, vendors aplenty at Fort Greene's International African Arts Festival

Hundreds of vendors featured various art pieces at the International African Arts Festival in Fort Greene Saturday.
Organizers said the event, now in its fifth decade, consists of vendors that span beyond the African continent.
"You’re going to find vendors and artisans from South Africa or West Africa or East Africa, but also from the Caribbean and also from down south and from the Bronx. And so, it’s a family gathering that expresses and shares all that the African community is all about," said International African Arts Festival Vice Chair Adeyemi Bandele.
Bandele, who co-founded the festival back in 1971, said that while the weekend's event is comprised of more than 200 vendors, artisans and performers and welcomes thousands of attendees, it's aimed at one thing.
"I go down to Little Italy. I have been in Chinatown when they have the Chinese new year. So it’s all about understanding other people's cultures and enjoying them and that’s the wonderful thing," Bandele said.
One designer whose craft has been a part of the festival for about three decades said the weekend's impact stretched far beyond celebrating each other's cultures.
"A child who is brought up to know the grandeur of his ancestors is going to be a different person. I am an ascendant of queens, Ok, and I act it," said Vivian Bennett, owner of Vivian Bennett Designs.
Bennett, whose jewelry is made from recycled cardboard and paper, hopes the festival inspired the younger generation.
"I say to the young people think about what it is you really like, what interest you and make it your passion, because you’ve got to be passionate now not only to you, but to people who see you doing something... They want to emulate you, not the hood in the street running from the police because he did something bad," Bennett said.
The festival runs through July 4 between 10 a.m. until 9 p.m.
There is no entry fee to the festival, but organizers said they will accept donations in order to keep the festival alive for many more years to come.